Technorati founder Dave Sifry found himself far from home – Dalian, China, to be exact, a city of 7 million near Shenyang. While hunting for guidebooks, he thumbed through multiple volumes and found plenty on the terracotta warriors and Beijing but nothing about Dalian. Thus OffBeatGuides was born.
The site allows you to enter your name, travel plans, and hotel. The system then pulls information from various sites including data from Accuweather and notes and articles by professional travel writers along with Creative Commons licensed homebrew content. It also includes maps, restaurants, and attractions in the area.
Once you’ve built your book you can download it as a PDF for $9.95 or purchase it in physical form for $24.95, which also includes the PDF. You can also connect to the Internet and read it online on the go.
Sifry wanted “something I can look at while driving a car” – presumably meaning he wants a paper book that doesn’t require much bandwidth to open and consult while traveling. He was also excited about “physically holding the object,” a noble goal in this digital age.
The site is currently in public beta.